Maison Française de Cleveland




The Maison Française de Cleveland was founded by Professor Émile B. de Sauzé shortly after his arrival in Cleveland in 1918. He set the pattern of meeting on a Friday evening once a month, at which time a professor from an American university or from France would lecture on some aspect of French literature or culture. As head of the Department of Foreign Languages for the Cleveland schools, he insisted that all French teachers attend these meetings. This nucleus quickly expanded when other interested parties joined the group.

In the 1940’s, M, de Sauzé prevailed upon the honorary French consul, M. Paul Wurzburger, to take on the presidency of the Maison Française, which he did for about twenty years. It was during the tenure of M. Wurzburger that the Maison Française became affiliated with the Fédération des Alliances Françaises aux États-Unis.

A subsequent president, Mme Eleanor Morse introduced the idea of having a dinner prior to the lecture. She also added to the Maison activities by inaugurating the annual French contest.

Mile. V. Lillian Politella guided the activities of the Maison Francaise from 1986 to 2011, when Dr. B. Douglas Amberman was elected president.

The Maison continues to meet once a month for dinner or brunch and a presentation in French in various venues in the greater Cleveland area. Lectures are always given in French by teachers and other francophone people in the region as well as by speakers provided by the Alliance Francaise. The talks can be on French literature, art, history or culture and sometimes about other francophone countries. At least once a year a program in French music is presented as well as a French film. The Maison often joins with the French American Chamber of Commerce to celebrate Bastille Day.

To encourage the study of French by young people, a major event sponsored by the Maison each year is the Concours -- a French contest given to high school students in Cleveland, and another given to college/ university students in Northeast Ohio. The high school contest is an oral one, the college contest is both oral and written. Thanks to generous support from Mme Odette Wurzburger and Mme Eleanor Morse, significant prizes are awarded to a number of deserving students each year.

Presently, the membership of the Maison Française numbers about 150.